Chicken thighs are cooked in two stages in this recipe, which was designed to be made outdoors on a propane burner. First, you fry the chicken to render the fat from the skin and get it beautifully browned. Then you put it in a low oven to finish cooking it all the way through. Not only does this result in more-tender chicken, but but it also makes for a much more relaxed and low-key approach.
pounds (about 21) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
About 1 quart buttermilk
cup loosely packed rubbed sage leaves
cup Old Bay seasoning
tablespoon kosher salt
cup freshly cracked black pepper
cups all-purpose flour
tablespoon baking powder
cups vegetable oil
strips thick-cut bacon
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- Put thighs in a large roasting pan or other flat pan that will hold them all in a single layer. Add buttermilk to cover, cover pan tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to 24, turning once or twice.
- Heat oven to 250 degrees. Combine sage, Old Bay, salt and pepper; mix well. Remove thighs from buttermilk, drain, then sprinkle on both sides with spice mix, rubbing lightly to make sure it adheres. Put flour and baking powder in a big paper bag and shake to mix. Working in batches, add about a third of the thighs and shake to coat with flour mixture; remove thighs from bag and repeat with next 2 batches.
- Put vegetable oil and bacon in a 20-inch skillet. Set skillet over high flame; keep an eye on the thermometer because you want to be ready to fry when oil hits about 370 degrees.
- When oil is up to heat, remove bacon and drain it to eat later. Shake excess flour off 1 thigh and add thigh to oil; there should be intense bubbling. Shake excess flour off half the remaining thighs and add them to pan, skin side down; oil should come about halfway up sides of thighs. Cook until golden brown on the side facing down, about 7 to 9 minutes. Flip over and cook until golden brown on the second side, another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towel.
- Allow oil to come back up to 370 degrees and repeat with remaining thighs. They may take 1 to 2 minutes less per side to brown.
- Put browned thighs in a roasting pan or a large sheet pan and cook in oven until cooked through with no trace of pink, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm, or wait up to 2 hours and serve at room temperature.
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